Seattle Reign FC’s Megan Rapinoe is one of five players up for U.S. Soccer’s 2018 Female Player of the Year award, which recognizes the United States player who performed at the highest level in their club and international play over the calendar year.
While all five players had standout seasons for club and country, Rapinoe has a particularly strong case for the award. Despite missing some time with both the U.S. and Seattle Reign due to injury, she was dangerous in front of the goal and set up her teammates consistently this year. Rapinoe led the U.S. in assists with 12, and she had seven goals for the Red, White, and Blue. In April, in addition to scoring against Mexico, Rapinoe assisted four goals. Her combined goals and assists (19) were highest on the U.S. team for any player except Alex Morgan (21).
It wasn’t just about how many goals she scored or set up. Rapinoe came through for the U.S. in big moments. She tallied the game-winner in the 1-0 victory over Germany in the SheBelieves Cup and sent in the cross that led to an own goal for England in the same tournament, which the U.S. won. Rapinoe also scored against Mexico in two different games, found the back of the net against China in a 2-1 win, and scored against Japan in the Tournament of Nations. She also produced this near-post blast against Jamaica in World Cup qualifiers.
What a goal!— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) October 15, 2018
Megan Rapinoe doubles the USWNT's lead after a wonderful cross-field pass from Abby Dahlkemper. pic.twitter.com/MhK83vGWeY
In league play, while Rapinoe missed eight games, she was still one of the top goal producers in NWSL play. She scored seven goals and had six assists, and Rapinoe was named to the NWSL Best XI and nominated for NWSL MVP. She also won the 2018 ESPY for Best NWSL Player (the first year of the award) and is a nominee for the first-ever France Football Women’s Ballon d’Or.
Here’s a look at Rapinoe’s competition for U.S. Player of the Year:
- Julie Ertz: Ertz started 15 games for the U.S. — primarily as a defensive midfielder. She scored against Denmark, Brazil in the Tournament of Nations, and then twice in the Women’s World Cup qualifying tournament. She also helped lead the Chicago Red Stars to the NWSL Playoffs and was named to the NWSL Second XI.
- Lindsey Horan: Horan was named NWSL MVP and to the NWSL Best XI. She scored 13 goals in league play and also had two assists — playing every minute of the 22 regular season games in which she appeared. For the USWNT, Horan scored three goals with eight assists.
- Tobin Heath: Heath spent the start of the year recovering from an injury, but didn’t miss a beat when she returned. She scored seven goals with six assists in just 10 games for the U.S. Heath was equally as good for the Portland Thorns, scoring seven goals and tallying seven assists. She also was named to the NWSL Best XI.
- Alex Morgan: This was one of Morgan’s best years for the U.S. She scored 18 goals in 19 games, while also picking up three assists. She was a bit quieter for the Orlando Pride in the NWSL, where she played in 1,500 minutes over 19 games and had five goals and two assists.
While each player has put up significant numbers, Rapinoe was arguably the most consistent across all competitions — for Reign FC and the U.S. For those who followed the USWNT this year, it was evident how much the team struggled to break stingy defenses or create space without Rapinoe on the field.
Voting for the awards starts today, closes on December 3, and the winner will be announced shortly after. Votes are collected from National Team and Youth National Team coaches and staff, National Team players who have earned a cap in this calendar year, American professional soccer league head coaches, as well as select media members, former players, and administrators.
There’s no fan vote, but if there was, we’d all be hitting the button for Rapinoe. And we’ll be happy to see her great form continue into 2019.